• Cerebral malaria;
  • Febrile convulsions;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Case–control study;
  • Gabon

Summary: Purpose: Cerebral malaria (CM) is suspected to be a potential cause of epilepsy in tropical areas. The purpose of this article was to evaluate the relationship between CM and epilepsy in Gabon.

Methods: A matched case–control study was carried out on a sample of subjects aged six months to 25 years and hospitalized between 1990 and 2004 in three hospitals in Libreville, Gabon. Cases were defined as patients suffering from epilepsy and confirmed by a neurologist. Controls were defined as patients without epilepsy. The exposure of interest was CM according to WHO criteria.

Results: In total, 296 cases and 296 controls were included. Of these, 36 (26 cases and 10 controls) had a CM history. The adjusted odds ratio (aOR) to develop epilepsy after CM was 3.9 [95% CI: 1.7–8.9], p < 0.001. Additional risk factors were identified: family history of epilepsy: aOR = 6.0 [95% CI: 2.6–14.1], p < 0.0001, and febrile convulsions: aOR = 9.2 [95% CI 4.0–21.1], p < 0.0001.

Conclusions: This first case–control study on that issue suggests that epilepsy-related CM is an underrecognized problem. It emphasizes the need for further studies to better evaluate the role of convulsions during CM.